I wanted to play my part in helping people navigate our complex immigration and asylum system: What is it like to volunteer with LinC and the CELC?

One of the projects run by the CELC and Warwick LinC is an Immigration and Asylum Clinic. One of our former students reflects on his experience volunteering with this important resource

David Metin – Immigration and Asylum Clinic Volunteer 2021/2022

I had the privilege of working with the Immigration and Asylum team at the Central England Law Centre (CELC) during the 2021/2022 academic year.

Even before I officially joined the CELC, I benefited from applying to this opportunity as all the students that had been invited to the interviews were given feedback on how we can better prepare for future applications. My main takeaway was that it is essential to research the organisation you are applying to and what your work would entail. Following the feedback, the volunteers received an induction session by Robert Bircumshaw and Enela Selimi. They outlined what our tasks would entail and provided oversight of relevant immigration laws that would be relevant to our work. I found this session incredibly useful and returned to the recording whenever I was stuck on a task. If I couldn’t find an answer to my questions in the recording,  I would contact either Rob or Enela, who were always there to provide us with support for any questions or issues we may have had. They both also understood our workload at university, did their best to accommodate our needs, and made us feel like a part of the immigration team at CELC.  

After our induction, we were split into teams of two. We were given a variety of tasks, including filling Exceptional Case Funding applications and helping people fill applications for their Biometric Residency Permits. I enjoyed conducting legal research and creating briefing documents for the cases the clinic was working on, as this aligned with my skill set and what I wanted to do in my professional life. The diversity of tasks ensured that I could develop a diverse range of skills and experiences that have made me a well-versed candidate for future opportunities.

I also appreciated the fact that we could attend meetings with clients. One of the main reasons I wanted to join the clinic was to play my part in helping people to navigate our complex immigration and asylum system. Attending meetings with clients allowed me to recognise that even as an undergraduate law student, my work could still directly impact those in need, which made me more invested in my work at the clinic.

My time at the clinic has not only allowed me to confirm my interest in working in the human rights and immigration field in my professional life, but it has also made me a more desirable candidate for future employers. I ended up securing a vacation scheme at a law firm that works on human rights and immigration cases and was told how my experience at the CELC made me stand out. Indeed, not only did my time at CELC demonstrate my interest and commitment to working in human rights law, but it also outlined how I had already developed the skills necessary to complete the vacation scheme. Indeed, many of the tasks we completed at the clinic, such as completing forms and conducting legal research, were similar to my work during my vacation scheme.  

Being able to work from the office was an excellent opportunity to gain insight into the day-to-day work of solicitors and paralegals. It allowed me to confirm that this would be my ideal career path. I also had the opportunity to discuss people’s professional journeys and learn more about the potential paths I might take following graduation.

Overall, my time at the centre was insightful and valuable. I would recommend anyone interested apply for an opportunity to volunteer with the LinC immigration and asylum clinic .

Career opportunities within the advice sector for Law students: Reflections on a LinC Summer Internship

In the first post of the Warwick LinC blog we asked Millie – one of our summer 2022 interns – to share with us her experience of working in an independent charity and how it helped her think about her future in law.

Millie Jeavons – LinC Summer Intern 2022

As a student interested in social justice law, I have been volunteering with Warwick Law in the Community (LinC) since my first year at university. I have always known that I did not want to work within the corporate world and Warwick LinC offer opportunities that have allowed me to gain valuable legal experience whilst giving back to the local community. As a result, I was keen to apply for the internships they offered over the summer.

I spent the past summer interning with Coventry Independent Advice Service (CIAS), a small charity dedicated to providing free and impartial advice to residents across the city. The organisation specialises in benefit and debt advice and advocates for public legal education by ensuring that their clients are aware of the help they are entitled to. This work is even more valuable in the face of the current cost of living crisis and due to the fact that billions of social welfare benefits go unclaimed each year. Coventry Independent Advice Service work with the objective of empowering their clients, ultimately reducing the reliance on their services, to ensure that clients are financially secure and able to challenge unfair decisions. This in turn enforces lasting change.

During my time spent with the organisation I had the opportunity to assist clients who have health conditions or disabilities with Personal Independence Payment claims. This was immensely beneficial to me, as I was involved in the whole process, aiding clients with new claims, reviews, mandatory reconsiderations, and appeals. This undoubtedly developed my legal drafting skills, particularly when challenging benefit decisions at the appeal stage. Due to the high demand for the service in Coventry, I was meeting up to ten people a week, enriching my client communication skills invaluably. It was made clear to me that work in the advice sector is very client focused, which makes it a great option for students looking for experience to further their legal career. Importantly, working within the advice sector may be a viable career option for students with a law degree that do not think practising law is for them.

I was also able to accompany experienced caseworkers to provide advice in local communities in Coventry’s social supermarkets. These operate in a reactive and fast-paced fashion making for a flexible, varied and interesting workday. Meeting with residents in these hubs often sparked the need to assist clients to apply for extra help and support. As a result, I was able to advocate for clients in charity grant and household support fund applications to help provide aid in response to the rising cost of living. The work I was able to do over the summer was very rewarding and the gratitude expressed by many clients indicated just how vital advice services are, not only to individual and family finances, but also to overall wellbeing. During my time spent with CIAS I was able to visit both Canley and Foleshill social supermarkets, which operate quite differently despite sharing the same purpose. It was thoroughly engaging to develop different strategies of offering advice depending on the specific clientele to ensure optimised support was provided.

I would strongly encourage students who are interested in non-conventional law careers to consider getting experience within the advice sector. There are many opportunities available that enhance important legal skills whilst allowing you to make meaningful impact and change. I am grateful that Warwick LinC was able to offer these internships, especially as they were paid. I would not have been able to participate in this opportunity without the support provided. I am appreciative that both Warwick LinC and CIAS were engaged in tailoring the experience to my interests and passions. Even within my interview I was asked what I would like to gain out of my potential experience, making it clear from the start that internships are in place to offer students like me valuable experience.

Prior to my internship I had some idea of what working within the advice sector might be like, but nothing could have prepared me for the immersive insight I received. CIAS and many advice organisations across the UK provide crucial support to those most vulnerable within our communities and being able to contribute to this support was immensely rewarding. I would recommend any students with a passion for social justice to immerse themselves within their local law centres or advice services to develop vital skills and to experience what a potential career in this sector could look like. I would like to thank Warwick LinC for supporting me to undertake this opportunity and hope that students are inspired to apply for upcoming opportunities, especially those within the advice sector.